Illinois Matmen Recap: Amine beats Hall to highlight substitute tourney

Updated: December 31, 2021

Photo: Michigan’s Myles Amine (right) prepared to ride former NCAA champion Mark Hall during their 184-pound match at the Illinois Matmen Open in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The Wolverine All-American and 2020 Olympic bronze medalist defeated Hall, a member of the Penn RTC, 4-2. (Photo by TC Lifonti.)

By Mike Finn

The name of the event changed but the college tournament that took place at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., provided a lot of excitement on Dec. 29-30. That included a featured bout at 184 pounds where Michigan’s All-American and 2020 Olympic medalist Myles Amine defeated former NCAA champ and three-time finalist Mark Hall for one of 10 championships of the Illinois Matmen Open.

Originally, the prestigious Ken Kraft Midlands was expected to host a large number of the nation’s top men’s and women’s collegiate wrestlers in the western suburb of Chicago for two of the final days of 2021, until the pandemic forced Midlands-host Northwestern to cancel the event on Dec. 23.

But led by Izzy Martinez and Willie Saylor of Illinois Matmen, a wrestling news website, and Frank Popolizio of Journeymen Wrestling, which creates national tournaments from its New York state location, a similar tournament was put together in less than a week for many of the wrestlers that had planned to compete in the Midlands.

And like the Midlands, the Illinois Matmen Open provided an opportunity for current college starters and reserves … as well as former college stars … to compete in this folkstyle tournament.

Lucas Byrd of Illinois (right) beat Pitt’s Micky Phillipi to capture the 133-pound championship. (TC Lifonti photo)

That set up a championship bout at 184, where Amine (seeing his first college action after claiming an Olympic bronze medal for the small country of San Marino this past summer in Tokyo) won by a 4-2 decision over Hall, the 2017 NCAA champ from Penn State, who now trains in freestyle with the Penn Regional Training Center in Philadelphia. Amine, who placed third at 197 pounds in the 2021 NCAAs last March, scored a first-period takedown and added a pair of escapes to beat Hall, who pulled within 3-2 with a third-period reversal.

Meanwhile, Pitt won the team championship with 121.5 points after eight Panthers placed among the top eight wrestlers in the 10 weight classes. That included a championship at 165 pounds by Elijah Cleary, who edged Penn’s Doug Zapf, 9-8, in the title bout.

Penn, featuring 10 placewinners, finished second with 118 points, one more point than Wisconsin, which saw six wrestlers finish in the Top 8. That included two championships by the Badgers: freshman Dean Hamiti, ranked No. 17 by WIN, turned in an impressive 21-6 technical fall over Harvard’s No. 13-ranked Phillip Conigliaro at 174 pounds, while sixth-ranked Trent Hillger beat Rider’s unattached Ethan Laird, 2-0, in the heavyweight bout.

Meanwhile, both Illinois and Rutgers also featured two individual champions.

Illini sophomore Justin Cardani edged Penn’s Ryan Miller, 4-3, to claim the 125-pound championship, while his teammate, sophomore Lucas Byrd, defeated Pitt’s Micky Phillipi, 5-4, in the 133-pound final.

Rutgers All-American Sebastian Rivera, a former Northwestern wrestler, who transferred to his home state school in 2019, won an 18-3 technical fall over Penn’s C.J. Composto, at 141 pounds. And the Scarlet Knights’ Greg Bulsak edged 2021 NCAA runner-up Nino Bonaccorsi of Pitt, 3-2, in the 197-pound championship.


Illinois Matmen Open

Dec. 29-30 • Hoffman Estates, Ill.

The current issue of WIN Magazine is available. Click on the cover of the current WIN Magazine or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe.

Top 10 Schools

Pl. School Wrestlers Points
1. Pittsburgh 10 121.5
2. Penn 10 118
3. Wisconsin 8 117
4. Illinois 9 105
5. Rutgers 9 94
6. Northern Illinois 9 61
7. Cal Poly 6 57
8. Lehigh 7 50.5
9. Purdue 7 49
10. Michigan 7 47.5



Placement Matches

125 pounds

1st – Justin Cardani (Illinois) dec. Ryan Miller (Penn), 4-3

3rd – Antonio Lorenzo (Cal Poly) major dec. Sheldon Seymour (Lehigh), 13-5

5th – Dean Shawver (Rutgers) dec. Blair Orr (Penn), 12-3

7th – Cage Curry (Pitt) dec. Lucian Brink (No. Illinois), 4-2


133 pounds

1st – Lucas Byrd (Illinois) dec. Micky Phillipi (Pitt), 5-4

3rd – Drew Mattin (Michigan) major dec. Julian Farber (Northern Iowa), 10-0

5th – Joey Oliveri (Rutgers) major dec. Carter Bailey (Lehigh), 16-3

7th – Jack Wagner (No. Iowa) dec. Kurt Phipps (Bucknell), 8-4


141 pounds

1st – Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers) won by TF over C.J. Composto (Penn), 18-3

3rd – Cole Matthews (Pitt) pinned Joe Zargo (Wisconsin), 4:14

5th – Parker Filius (Purdue) dec. MacKenzie Bell (Rider), 9-6

7th – We Rachal (Illinois) pinned Carmen Ferrante (Penn), 2:56


149 pounds

1st – Josh Heil (Campbell) dec. Austin Gomez (Wisconsin), 3-1 sv

3rd – Anthony Artalona (Penn) dec. Anthony White (Rutgers), 3-1

5th – Max Brignola (Lehigh) dec. Lukus Stricker (Harvard), 8-5

7th – Al Desantis (Rutgers) won by med. forfeit over Christian Kanzler (Illinois)


157 pounds

1st – Elijah Cleary (Pitt) dec. Doug Zapf (Penn), 9-8

3rd – Jake Keating (Virginia) dec. Alex Carida (Bloomsburg), 5-3

5th – Brawley Lamer (Cal Poly) won by med. forfeit over Kendall Coleman (Purdue)

7th – Grant Zamin (Unattached) dec. Garrett Model (Wisconsin), 4-3


165 pounds

1st – Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin) won by TF over Phillip Conigliaro, 21-6 (7:00)

3rd – Jake Wentzel (Pitt) dec. Izzak Olejnik (Northern Illinois), 3-0

5th – Zach Hartman (Bucknell) dec. Lucas Revano (Penn), 7-0

7th – Holden Heller (Hofstra) dec. Dan Braunagel (Illinois), 6-5


174 pounds

1st – Edmond Ruth (Unattached) dec. Mason Kauffman (Northern Illinois), 3-2 tb

3rd – Manuel Rojas (Unattached) dec. Reece Heller (Hofstra), 8-4

5th – Grant Nijenhuis (Purdue) major dec. Connor Oneill (Rutgers), 14-3

7th – Nick Incontrera (Penn) major dec. Josh Kim (Harvard), 8-0


184 pounds

1st – Myles Amine (Michigan) dec. Mark Hall (Penn RTC), 4-2

3rd – Bernie Truax (Cal Poly) pinned Zach Braunagel (Illinois), 0:46

5th – Trey Munoz (Oregon State) dec. Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois), 12-7

7th – Gregg Harvey (Pitt) dec. Neil Antrassian (Penn), 8-3


197 pounds

1st – Greg Bulsak (Rutgers) dec. Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt), 3-2

3rd – Braxton Amos (Wisconsin) dec. Cody Baldridge (North Central), 3-1 sv

5th – Cole Urbas (Penn) won by med. forfeit over Ryan Reyes (Oregon State)

7th – Chris Kober (Campbell) dec. Levi Hopkins (Campbell), 6-1



1st – Trent Hillger (Wisconsin) dec. Ethan Laird (Rider), 2-0

3rd – Luke Luffman (Illinois) dec. Nathan Taylor (Lehigh), 6-1

5th – Michael Woulfe (Purdue) dec. Jake Slinger (Pitt), 8-4

7th – Ben Goldin (Penn) dec. Boone McDermott (Rutgers), 6-4 sv